Could Bayern Munich really part with Robert Lewandowski?

The 33-year-old talisman has broken all kinds of records in Munich, but he is not getting any younger.

With Erling Haaland the face of a new era, Bayern may be tempted for the Borussia Dortmund star to lead the way.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI OUT, HAALAND IN?

Bayern Munich could sell Robert Lewandowski to raise funds for in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Sport Bild.

Bundesliga champions Bayern are planning with Lewandowski for the future, though they have reportedly not written off the idea of bringing in Haaland, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Should Bayern and Lewandowski not agree to a new deal, the Poland international is believed to be interested in a switch to the Premier League or PSG.

As for Bayern, they feel cashing in on Lewandowski for around €60million would help in landing Haaland, who has a release clause of €75m.

Bayern are also eyeing Barca's Ousmane Dembele, while Inter's Lautaro Martinez, Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic and Juventus star Federico Chiesa are among their alternative options.

 

ROUND-UP

- Eurosport claims LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid want to bring in wantaway United forward Anthony Martial in a swap deal.

Barca and Atletico are interested in Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, says Sport. Azpilicueta is a free agent at the end of the season. Chelsea team-mate Antonio Rudiger is also set to become available on a free transfer.

- Calciomercato reports PSG are eyeing a move for Bayern forward Kingsley Coman. The 25-year-old Frenchman made three appearances for PSG before leaving the capital in 2014.

- Salzburg sensation Karim Adeyemi is wanted by Barca, Inter and Liverpool but the Germany international wants a move to Dortmund, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain each have four nominees in the 23-man shortlist for the FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11 for 2021.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold are also included, although there is no place for Mohamed Salah.

PSG's attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are among the forwards, as is Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Veteran Dani Alves also won enough votes to make the list, even though the 38-year-old, who recently rejoined Barcelona, only played 16 times in domestic competition in Brazil this year.

Professional footballers across the world were asked to vote for the three players they considered to have the best seasons during the 2020-21 season among goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards.

FIFPRO said: "For the first time in 17 years, FIFPRO is updating the announcement about the most-voted players, reducing the shortlist from 55 to 23. This has been done to resemble a real-life 'squad' which, usually for international competitions, is the number of players involved. 

"The three goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and six forwards with the most votes earned a place in the 23-men World 11 'squad'. To complete this elite selection, the two remaining outfield players with the most votes were added."

The keeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards with the most votes will be chosen for the World 11, with the remaining spot assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes.

The final 11 will be announced at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony on January 17.

 

FIFA FIFPRO MEN'S WORLD 11 23-PLAYER SHORTLIST:

Goalkeepers:
Alisson (Liverpool, Brazil)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan/Paris Saint-Germain, Italy)
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea, Senegal)

Defenders:
David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, Austria)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona, Spain)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England)
Dani Alves (Sao Paulo/Barcelona, Brazil)
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, Italy)
Ruben Dias (Manchester City, Portugal)

Midfielders:
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona, Spain)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United, Portugal)
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona, The Netherlands)
Jorginho (Chelsea, Italy)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea, France)

Forwards:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United, Portugal)
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Norway)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland)
Romelu Lukaku (Inter/Chelsea, Belgium)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina)
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil)

Salzburg starlet Karim Adeyemi says he would love to one day join Barcelona but the player's agent has ruled that out in the near future.

The 19-year-old German striker has been linked with several clubs, including Barcelona along with Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund.

Adeyemi attended the Golden Boy ceremony in Turin on Monday where he claimed the web-voted prize, with Pedri winning the major award.

"Barca is a great club, it is a source of pride that they love me and of course I can see myself playing there if given the option," Adeyemi told reporters after the Golden Boy ceremony.

"Now they are feeling the departure of Messi but they will always be in the Champions League."

Adeyemi also clarified that he had not spoken to Barcelona president Joan Laporta who attended the function.

However, Adeyemi's agent Thomas Salomon came out after his player's comments, ruling out a Barcelona move in the near future.

"A few days ago we said 'no' definitively to Barca's proposal for Adeyemi," Salomon said according to Sport. "Barca is no longer an option for Karim. The best thing for him is a German club."

He continued: "They [Barcelona] made a proposal to us, but they never came to present anything to Salzburg."

Salomon did clarify that Adeyemi could potentially move to Camp Nou at another point in his career, keeping his options open.

"In two or three years we will see what can happen," he said.

Barcelona will face Napoli in the pick of the ties for the Europa League knockout round play-off.

Beleaguered European giants Barca crashed out of the Champions League group stages following a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich.

It is the first time since 2003-04 that the Camp Nou club will not appear in the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition.

Instead, the Europa League offers Xavi's side some hope of continental redemption, although Napoli – fourth in Serie A – represent tough opponents for a side languishing eighth in LaLiga.

Sevilla, six-time winners, will take on Dinamo Zagreb, while Scottish champions Rangers were handed a stern test after being drawn to meet Borrusia Dortmund.

Elsewhere, Porto and Lazio go head-to-head, while Atalanta face Olympiacos, with all ties being decided over two legs.

Europa League knockout round play-off draw in full:

Sevilla v Dinamo Zagreb
Atalanta v Olympiacos
RB Leipzig v Real Sociedad
Barcelona v Napoli
Zenit v Real Betis
Borussia Dortmund v Rangers
Sheriff Tiraspol v Braga
Porto v Lazio

Bayern Munich are not interested in Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and "will think twice" about signing Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele, according to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

German champions Bayern were this week named as one of four clubs realistically capable of signing Haaland by the player's agent Mino Raiola, along with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City.

Raiola clarified those comments by insisting Haaland is not yet thinking about leaving Dortmund, but the Norway international – reported to have a €75million buy-out clause that will kick in at the end of the season – continues to be linked with a move away.

However, with Robert Lewandowski in fantastic form and under contract until the end of the 2022-23 season, Rummenigge does not believe Bayern will attempt to poach Haaland from Bundesliga rivals Dortmund next year.

"FC Bayern will not try to get Haaland," the former Bayern chairman told Bild TV. "Not just for financial reasons, but also out of respect and appreciation for Robert Lewandowski, who's the best number nine in the world."

Since Haaland's debut for Dortmund on January 18 last year, Lewandowski (100) is the only player in Europe's top five leagues to have scored more goals than the former Salzburg striker (74) across all competitions.

 

Haaland is not the only big-name player to have been touted as a possible target for Bayern, with Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele also said to be on the Bundesliga leaders' radar heading into 2022.

Dembele will become a free agent at the end of the season and is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a new club from January, but Rummenigge cannot see a place for the France international in a star-studded Bayern side.

"I was a big fan when he played for Dortmund. He was a great player," Rummenigge said.

"Since then he's not been the same. Bayern have [Kingsley] Coman, [Leroy] Sane, [Serge] Gnabry and [Jamal] Musiala, all of whom are at a higher level at the moment.

"Although Dembele will be a free agent, there will be a big signing-on fee involved. For financial reasons, I think FC Bayern will think twice about it."

Dembele's time at Barcelona has been blighted by fitness issues, but he remains a key player for the Catalan giants when available.

He has managed 30 goals and 20 assists in 123 appearances in all competitions since joining from Dortmund in August 2017 and has been directly involved in 0.65 goals per 90 minutes.

For context, that puts Dembele on a par with Bayern forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and ahead of Coman (0.63) over that period, but behind Musiala (0.73), Gnabry (0.78) and Sane (0.9).

Mino Raiola has moved to clarify comments he made this week regarding Erling Haaland's future, insisting it is not a foregone conclusion that the striker will leave Borussia Dortmund next year. 

Haaland, who has scored 51 Bundesliga goals in 52 appearances since making his Dortmund bow last year, is already one of the world's leading goalscorers.

Among players in Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski (100) has scored more goals than Haaland (74) across all competitions since January 18, 2020, when he first played for BVB.

The 21-year-old is rumoured to be a target for Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and the two Manchester clubs, with reports suggesting he has a €75million buy-out clause that will kick in at the end of the season.

Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has described those claims as "rumour" and would not confirm the clause.

In an interview with Sport1 published on Thursday, Raiola claimed: "We have been thinking about his future for two years. We have clear ideas about where he should go and, of course, we look at what the market will offer. 

"With a player like him, we can influence the market, we will not be influenced.

"I changed the transfer market and today we agents have created a new game alongside football: the transfer market. Today two days a week we talk about football, in the other five about the transfer market."

 

A second part of the interview, published on Friday, had Raiola naming four clubs – Bayern, Madrid, Barca and Manchester City – as the only teams that could afford to buy the Norway international.

However, Raiola on Saturday issued a statement aiming to clear up his quotes.

"I want to clarify the following about the Sport1 interview," a post on his official Twitter account read.

"The four clubs I mentioned about Haaland's future were just an example to say that, when he leaves, he will go to one of the top 15 European clubs."

Raiola also stressed Haaland may well stay at Dortmund for another season.

"Now Erling's focus is solely on football, there are no negotiations with any club," Raiola's statement continued.

"And I reaffirm what I said – it's not a sure thing he will leave this summer [2022 off-season], maybe it will be the one after that."

Haaland, who has only recently returned from injury, could not help Dortmund to victory against Bochum on Saturday, with Julian Brandt rescuing a 1-1 draw for Marco Rose's team, who are six points behind Bundesliga leaders Bayern.

Barcelona are in disarray – out of Champions League and out of money.

Funds are limited at Camp Nou and it is forcing the embattled LaLiga giants to make some tough decisions.

Frenkie de Jong and Marc-Andre ter Stegen could be sold.

 

TOP STORY – DE JONG AND TER STEGEN TO LEAVE CAMP NOU?

Barcelona are willing to sell Frenkie de Jong and Marc-Andre ter Stegen due to the club's finances, according to Diario AS.

Eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage, Barca are in the midst of a financial crisis, having been forced to part with superstar captain Lionel Messi at the start of the season.

Barca head coach Xavi faces a rebuilding job but needs to raise funds, and star midfielder De Jong and goalkeeper Ter Stegen could be sacrificed.

De Jong has been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, who have also eyed Ter Stegen.

 

ROUND-UP

- Football Insider says Real Madrid are weighing up a move for former superstar Cristiano Ronaldo if he does not fit into the system of United interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

- ESPN claims Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham, RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara and Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United are key targets for Manchester United. Erling Haaland is also a long-term target of United.

Chelsea are eyeing Leicester City's Wesley Fofana as a replacement for soon-to-be free agent Antonio Rudiger, per Goal. Rudiger has been linked with Real Madrid and Bayern on a free transfer. Preparing for life after Rudiger, Chelsea have also been linked to Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde.

Paris Saint-Germain are looking to move on Mauro Icardi, Rafinha and Abdou Diallo, says L'Equipe. Icardi has been linked with Juventus, Milan, Newcastle United and Tottenham.

Erling Haaland and Mino Raiola have been thinking about the striker's future for two years and have a clear idea of his next move, the agent says.

Haaland joined Borussia Dortmund from Salzburg after the Bundesliga side met his €20million release clause in December 2019.

He has since raced to 51 goals in as many German top-flight appearances, averaging a goal a game to reach his half-century – Haaland the quickest to the milestone in Bundesliga history and the youngest to do so at just 21.

Indeed, among players in Europe's top five leagues, only Robert Lewandowski (100) has scored more goals than Haaland (74) across all competitions since his Dortmund debut on January 18, 2020.

Speculation around a move away from BVB persists, with Haaland's contract reportedly containing a €75m release clause, although club chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has described those claims as "rumour" and would not confirm the clause.

With a host of Europe's biggest clubs rumoured to be interested, Raiola – who represents the 21-year-old – believes he and Haaland hold all the keys in the upcoming transfer windows.

"We have been thinking about his future for two years," Raiola told SPORT1. "We have clear ideas about where he should go and, of course, we look at what the market will offer. 

"With a player like him, we can influence the market, we will not be influenced.

"I changed the transfer market and today we agents have created a new game alongside football: the transfer market. Today two days a week we talk about football, in the other five about the transfer market."

Dortmund, who next travel to Bochum on Saturday, sit four points behind Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich after Julian Nagelsmann's side secured a 3-2 victory in last weekend's Klassiker.

Haaland scored in that game and has four goals in three appearances since returning from a hip injury.

Is a Leeds United midfielder ready to reject a switch to Old Trafford?

Typically, Manchester United are too big to turn down but Kalvin Phillips is believed to be willing to withstand their interest due to the rivalry between the two clubs.

The beneficiaries of such a decision? Liverpool apparently.

 

TOP STORY – PHILLIPS TO TURN DOWN MAN UTD

Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips will snub a move to Manchester United in favour of Premier League rivals Liverpool, according to The Sun.

Phillips has emerged as a target for Leeds' bitter rivals United, while Liverpool are also admirers of the England international.

Wary of the backlash a move to Old Trafford would cause among Leeds fans, Phillips is ready to reject United and join Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are plotting a move for Everton star Richarlison, claims Fichajes. The Brazil international scored against Arsenal on Monday, while he has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Borussia Dortmund have made direct contact with Salzburg star Karim Adeyemi. The Germany international is Dortmund's main target as clubs queue up to sign Erling Haaland, who is wanted by Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Chelsea, PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich.

- Tuttomercato says Franck Kessie could leave Milan on a free transfer. The soon-to-be free agent has been linked with Tottenham, Inter, PSG and United.

Fiorentina are poised to sign Lille star Jonathan Ikone, per Gianluca Di Marzio. The deal is reportedly not related to the future of wantaway forward Dusan Vlahovic – the Serbia international has been linked with City, United, Bayern, Inter, Juve, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

His exploits for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund have sparked a frenzy among Europe's elite.

With Haaland attracting interest, Dortmund are making moves to replace the Norway international.

 

TOP STORY – ADEYEMI TO SUCCEED HAALAND?

Borussia Dortmund are working on a deal to sign Salzburg's Karim Adeyemi as a replacement for in-demand star Erling Haaland, according to Fabrizio Romano's Here We Go podcast.

Haaland is wanted all over Europe amid links with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

As speculation mounts over Haaland, Dortmund are reportedly preparing for his departure with a move for Salzburg sensation and Germany international Adeyemi.

Barca, Bayern and Liverpool are reportedly interested in Adeyemi.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool lead the chase to sign Dortmund star Jude Bellingham, says The Mirror. As Europe's elite eye Haaland, Liverpool are looking to pounce on Bellingham who has been linked with Chelsea and United.

- Todofichajes reports head coach Mauricio Pochettino has lost the faith of the Paris Saint-Germain dressing room. Pochettino has emerged as United's rumoured top target to lead the Red Devils long term, with Zinedine Zidane tipped to replace him in Paris.

Bayern have joined the race to sign Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria, per Romano. Zakaria has been linked with Roma, Liverpool, City, Juve and Barca.

Milan and Barca are eyeing Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, per Romano. The Denmark international has been in contract talks at Stamford Bridge.

Julian Nagelsmann claims Jude Bellingham tarnished Bayern Munich's Klassiker win over Borussia Dortmund with his costly outburst against the match referee.

Bellingham was unhappy after Dortmund were denied two spot-kicks in Saturday's action-packed Bundesliga clash prior to Mats Hummels being penalised for handball.

Robert Lewandowski converted the resulting penalty to earn Bayern a 3-2 win, leading Dortmund teenager Bellingham to question the integrity of referee Felix Zwayer in his post-game interview.

The England international appeared to allude to a six-month ban handed to Zwayer following a 2005 match-fixing scandal, which centred around fellow official Robert Hoyzer.

Hoyzer was found to have fixed 2. Bundesliga matches in 2004-05. One of those involved Zwayer operating as an assistant, with the allegation he took a €300 bribe. Zwayer strenuously denied any such wrongdoing in the course of that investigation.

Bellingham's comments are reportedly being examined by police, while the German Football Association (DFB) has fined the youngster €40,000.

As the fallout continues from Bayern's win, which moved them four points clear at the summit, Nagelsmann gave his view on the refereeing decisions and Bellingham's remarks.

"Those comments tarnished the game a bit," Bayern head coach Nagelsmann said at a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Barcelona.

"I can understand the discussions. But the incident involving Marco Reus couldn't have resulted in a penalty because there was an offside.

"I wouldn't have complained about the penalty for us if it hadn't been given. I can understand from Dortmund's point of view."

Bayern now switch focus to the visit of Barca to the Allianz Arena, with the game to be held behind closed doors due to rising coronavirus cases in Bavaria.

The German giants have won each of their last three meetings with Barcelona, which is the longest run of wins by a team against Barca in their European Cup and Champions League history.

 

Nagelsmann's side are already assured of top spot in Group E, while the visitors may need to win if they are to progress, depending on how Benfica get on against Dynamo Kiev.

Despite Barcelona enduring a trying time on and off the field in recent times, Nagelsmann insists it is only a matter of time before the LaLiga heavyweights turn things around.

"I think they are still an extremely attractive club for players and fans," Nagelsmann said. "The financial figures are known. If that hovers over you, you will be a little inhibited.

"In a successful era you may become lazy and need too long for decisions. Then you seldom think about what happens when things go bad.

"The spitting out of talent has been a bit lacking, but that will only come again. Obviously they are making ends meet and still have a good squad.

"For me, Frenkie de Jong is one of the best midfielders in the world. They still have world-class players. They are under pressure in the table and have to win. They will give everything to make this a good game."

Bayern have won all five of their group matches, scoring a combined 19 goals and conceding three.

At home, they have scored five goals in each of their two Champions League games so far this term and have netted at least twice in each of their last 11 home matches in the competition.

The Bavarians will remain without Leon Goretzka on Wednesday due to injury, despite the midfielder returning to training, while Serge Gnabry is out with an adductor issue.

Despite having little to play for on the face of it, Nagelsmann intends to name a strong side to face Barca.

"We'll play our best available team," he said. "Benfica don't have to worry! We are going for six wins from six and that is a worthwhile goal."

Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham has accepted a fine of €40,000 from the German Football Association (DFB) for his comments relating to the referee in Saturday's Klassiker defeat to Bayern Munich.

The 18-year-old was unhappy after the 3-2 loss at Signal Iduna Park, with referee Felix Zwayer awarding Bayern a late penalty for handball against Mats Hummels, which was scored by former Dortmund man Robert Lewandowski to seal the win for the visitors.

Zwayer had also turned down a penalty appeal from Dortmund earlier in the game after Marco Reus went down under a challenge in the box.

Interviewed after the game by Viaplay, Bellingham said: "For me, it wasn't [a penalty]. He [Hummels] is not even looking at the ball and he's fighting to get it and it hits him. You can look at a lot of the decisions in the game.

"You give a referee that has match fixed before the biggest game in Germany. What do you expect?"

The England midfielder's comments referred to Zwayer's six-month ban for his involvement in a match-fixing scandal in 2005, which centred around fellow official Robert Hoyzer.

The DFB released a statement on its website on Tuesday saying: "The Sports Court of the German Football Association (DFB) has fined Jude Bellingham in the amount of 40,000 euros in single-judge proceedings after indictment by the DFB Control Committee for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"The player of the Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund has already agreed to the verdict, the verdict is therefore legally binding."

Zwoyer has explained the two controversial decisions, telling Sky Sport: "[The Reus incident] was contact in the upper body area, which is allowed to happen even at high speed.

"The situation is not black and white. I decided against the penalty kick because of my line [of sight]. It was not necessary for me because I had a clear view.

"Again, in the situation with the handball on Hummels, I had a factual perception. In the other situation, I had a complete view. If the video assistant had a second shot – like an arm that was out – he would have given me that on the ear.

"The [Hummels] situation was a standard corner kick. I see in the running game that it's about a touch by Hummels. In the game, it was not clear whether the arm went to the ball.

"I checked it after [the VAR team], then the arm position was checked. In the end, he clearly deflected the ball with his elbow. I came to the decision in the end that it was a penalty."

Milan host Liverpool knowing they need a win to keep their Champions League hopes alive in one of the headline fixtures on Tuesday.

Real Madrid and Inter meet in a battle for top spot in Group D, with both already qualified as the Italian side travel to Spain with a woeful recent record.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are already through in Group A as well, with Lionel Messi aiming to follow in the footsteps of George Weah and Neymar at home to Club Brugge.

Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data behind the next set of matches.

Milan v Liverpool: Reds eye English record

Milan are searching for their first win against an English side in Europe since February 2012, while the Rossoneri have recorded victory in just one of their past nine home games in the Champions League group stage.

In contrast, Liverpool have triumphed in all five of their opening games this season as they look to become the first English side to win all six of their group-stage matches in a single campaign.

The Reds are also aiming to record victories in six consecutive games in the European Cup/Champions League for the first time in their history, with Alisson on the hunt for three consecutive clean sheets in the continental competition for his first time.

Paris Saint-Germain v Club Brugge: Mbappe and Messi await leaky defence

Club Brugge were defeated by five goals in their last clash against RB Leipzig, the third consecutive group game in which they conceded at least four times.

No team has ever gone four straight games letting in at least four, but the Belgians will have to negotiate with Messi, who could become just the third player – after Weah in 1994 and Neymar in 2017 – to score in his first three consecutive home games for PSG in the competition.

The visitors will also have to contend with Kylian Mbappe, the France international managing five goal involvements in three matches against Brugge – his joint-most against a single opponent in the competition, along with Red Star and Istanbul Basaksehir.

RB Leipzig v Manchester City: Guardiola's men out to defend German record

City are unbeaten in their previous 14 games against German opposition, including a six-game undefeated streak on the road, in a run that stretches back to November 2014 in the Champions League.

The reigning Premier League champions have won their past nine such fixtures, scoring 28 goals and conceding just nine in return, while Leipzig are winless in their most recent three meetings with English sides.

If Leipzig fail to defeat Pep Guardiola's side, it will be the first time they have not registered a single home win during the group stages in Europe.

Real Madrid v Inter: Los Blancos looking for goalscoring milestone 

Inter have claimed just one win in their past 11 meetings with Spanish opposition in European competition and their last away win against such sides came all the way back in October 2004.

The Serie A outfit have not beaten Madrid in Europe since March 1967 as Carlo Ancelotti's side look to score their 1,000th goal in the European Cup/Champions League in just their 455th game.

Karim Benzema could be central to Madrid hitting that milestone if he is passed fit, the forward already with five group-stage goals to his name this term as he sits two behind Raul in the club charts in the competition (66).

 

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Sporting CP:

16 - Ajax have scored 16 goals in their five games in the Champions League this season, with only Bayern Munich (19) and Manchester City (17) finding the net more.

15 - The previous three meetings between Ajax and Sporting have seen a total of 15 goals scored, at an average of five goals per game. Indeed, neither side has managed to keep a clean sheet in any of their three clashes to date.

Borussia Dortmund v Besiktas:

60 - Jude Bellingham has had a direct hand in 60 per cent of Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League goals this season (one scored, two assisted), with the last Englishman to enjoy more than three goal involvements during the group stages of a season before the age of 19 being Jack Wilshere in 2010-11 for Arsenal (one scored, three assisted).

5 - Besiktas remain the only Champions League side in 2021-22 to lose all five of their matches and are looking to avoid being the first team since AEK Athens in 2018-19 to lose each of their six group games.

Porto v Atletico Madrid:

5 - Porto will be aiming to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League for a fifth time in their past five tournament appearances (2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2020-21). The last time they failed to do so was in 2015-16 under Julen Lopetegui.

786 - Luis Suarez's only goal in 11 appearances for Atletico Madrid in the Champions League was a penalty against Milan in September, giving him a minutes-per-goal ratio of 786. At previous club Barcelona, the Uruguay striker scored 25 goals in 55 appearances, with a minutes-per-goal ratio of 192.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Sheriff: 

1 - Shakhtar Donetsk have only won one of their past 11 home games in the Champions League (D5 L5), while they have failed to score in seven of the games in this run, including both in 2021-22 (D1 L1).

25 – Sheriff's 2-0 victory over Shakhtar in this season's tournament came despite the Moldovan side having just 25 per cent possession – since 2003-04, only Atletico (23) versus Barcelona in April 2016 have won a Champions League game by multiple goals with a lower possession percentage.

This week sees the end of the group stages for this season's Champions League with honour, ambition and, yes, prize money on the line.

Two Spanish giants are being made to sweat on matchday six as Atletico Madrid need a win and a favour to stay in the competition, while Barcelona quite probably need to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to avoid dropping into the Europa League.

Atalanta and Villarreal will battle it out for second place in Group F, while Real Madrid and Inter face off at the Santiago Bernabeu to determine who will win Group D.

Group G will perhaps be the most dramatic, with all four participants in with a chance of finishing first or second, but what exactly does each team need from their final group game? Stats Perform has the answers for you here...

 

Group A

Manchester City have already secured top spot after beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on matchday five, with the French side definitely finishing second, sitting four points behind City and four points ahead of both RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Leipzig, who sacked coach Jesse Marsch over the weekend, host City and need to match or better Club Brugge's result to clinch third place and a Europe League spot.

The Belgians must get something from their trip to Paris and hope that they achieve a better result than Leipzig.

 

Group B

Liverpool have had first place sewn up since they beat Atletico Madrid at Anfield on matchday four and now sit 10 points ahead of second place in what had been labelled a 'group of death' when the draw took place.

It's all to play for otherwise, though, with Porto second. A win for them at home to Atletico will confirm their passage to the knockout stage. A draw will also be fine as long as Milan do not beat Liverpool at San Siro.

Milan need to win against the Reds and hope the other game is a draw, while the Spanish champions have to beat Porto and hope that the Italians fail to beat Liverpool.

 

Group C

The most straightforward group of all as every position has already been confirmed, with Ajax top, Sporting CP joining them in the knockout stage as runners-up, while Borussia Dortmund will go into the Europa League and Besiktas are out.

 

Group D

Real Madrid and Inter have both qualified, with Carlo Ancelotti's men only needing to avoid defeat to the Italians at the Santiago Bernabeu to top the group. Inter need to beat Madrid to overtake them.

Sheriff will go into the Europa League having already been confirmed in third place above Shakhtar Donetsk.

 

Group E

Bayern Munich have won the group and Dynamo Kyiv will finish bottom, but the battle for second and third is going to the wire.

Barcelona have a two-point advantage in second place, but travel to Bayern, while Benfica host Dynamo, with the Portuguese side boasting the superior head-to-head record over the Catalans.

A win in Germany sees Xavi's men safely through, but should they draw or lose, they will be reliant on Benfica failing to win as well.

 

Group F

Manchester United sealed top spot with their 2-0 win at Villarreal on matchday five.

The Yellow Submarine are a point ahead of Atalanta in second, so only need to avoid defeat in Italy, while Gian Piero Gasperini's side must win to take the other qualification place.

Young Boys can still claim a Europa League spot if they beat United at Old Trafford and Atalanta lose.

 

Group G

The tightest of groups where it all comes down to the final round.

Lille sit top on eight points, and a win at Wolfsburg will secure that spot, while a draw will still see them qualify as they have a superior head-to-head with Sevilla.

Salzburg will go through if they avoid defeat at home to Sevilla, winning the group if they win and Lille do not.

Sevilla have to win in Austria to go through. They will at least secure third and a place in the Europa League if they lose and Wolfsburg also fail to beat Lille.

Wolfsburg actually cannot finish third but can finish first or second with a win against Lille.

 

Group H

Chelsea and Juventus have both qualified from the group, and Thomas Tuchel's side will secure top spot with a win at Zenit. Juventus must better Chelsea's result when they host Malmo.

Zenit have already confirmed their place in the Europa League, while Malmo are out.

Der Klassiker referee Felix Zwayer explained the controversial moments in Bayern Munich's 3-2 win over Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Dortmund succumbed to defeat at home to defending champions and leaders Bayern, with the second half seeing controversial decisions go in favour of Die Roten.

Firstly, Marco Reus' protests were ignored when the Dortmund man was tripped in the Bayern box by Lucas Hernandez, before the visitors got their winner in similarly contentious fashion.

Mats Hummels threw himself between two players in an attempt to reach a corner delivery, but he appeared to start stumbling and ultimately fell into the ball with his arm first.

While replays showed Hummels was not looking at the ball, seemingly rendering it accidental, Zwayer pointed to the spot following a VAR check and Robert Lewandowski subsequently scored what proved to be the winning goal.

Zwayer offered an insight into his decisions, telling Sky Germany: "It was contact in the upper body area, which is allowed to happen even at high speed.

"The situation is not black and white, I decided against the penalty kick because of my line [of sight]. It was not necessary for me because I had a clear view.

"Again, in the situation with the handball on Hummels I had a factual perception. In the other situation I had a complete view, if the video assistant had a second shot - like an arm that was out - he would have given me that on the ear."

 

On the Hummels incident, Zwayer added: "The situation was a standard, corner kick. I see in the running game that it's about a touch by Hummels. In the game it was not clear whether the arm went to the ball.

"I checked it after Cologne, then the arm position was checked. In the end, he clearly deflected the ball with his elbow. I came to the decision in the end that it was a penalty."

It comes after Dortmund star Jude Bellingham questioned the integrity of Zwayer in a remarkable post-match rant.

Bellingham suggested it was the standard of refereeing to be expected from someone who had "match-fixed" before, alluding to controversy earlier in Zwayer's career.

However, Zwayer has never been found to have fixed a game.

In 2005, Zwayer was caught up in a scandal that centred around fellow referee Robert Hoyzer, who was found to have fixed 2.Bundesliga matches.

In one match, Zwayer was Hoyzer's assistant and was accused of taking a €300 bribe before he and three others turned Hoyzer in.

Zwayer faced a German FA (DFB) disciplinary over the matter in 2006. In December 2014, German newspaper Die Zeit published documents that showed Zwayer was banned for six months, information that did not emerge at the time.

Dortmund head coach Marco Rose was sent off after BVB conceded a penalty to Bayern on Saturday.

Having lost their last four matches at home to Bayern – their joint longest losing streak at home to a team, Dortmund are second and four points off the pace through 14 matches.

"The first one [penalty], I still see it the same way. It would be a shame if we talk too much about refereeing decisions here now," Rose told reporters. "I saw both situations again, and now I can be accused, rightly of course, of wearing black and yellow glasses. But, for me, the situation with Marco Reus is different. Because Marco is clearly in front of the ball, the opponent not only pushes him from behind as the referee said and perceived, but he also runs him over.

"And there is also frustration. You can see that in the way he falls. And so, for me, it is a clear penalty. And I have seen the second situation several times. It starts with Thomas Muller's hand on Mats Hummels' shoulder. Mats tries to protect himself a bit, which is natural, which is very natural, stumbles, doesn't see the ball anymore, dives somewhere and then the ball falls on his hand. In the first situation there was no video evidence.

"The referee even said that he had received confirmation from Cologne that his perception was correct. This statement is incredible and not very comprehensible to me. And then, in the second situation, you look at yourself accordingly just with pity and bitterness. We have to talk about it very, very much. And of course, it also makes you emotional, that's clear."

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